Thank you Serena Williams, for changing tennis forever
NEW YORK – We could cling to endless angles by which this edition of the US Open could be remembered.
From the changing habits of Nick Kyrgios to the untold story written by Carlos Alcaraz.
But at the moment of truth, this US Open should only have one proper name, and that’s Serena Williams. After all, we may be talking about the greatest tennis player of all time.
There are those who will prefer Steffi Graf or Martina Navratilova, and there is nothing written about tastes. But no one can deny that Williams marked a turning point both on and off the pitch.
This unshakable belief of her father Richard caused Serena and her sister Venus to break with the norm. Two players of humble origins and without the necessary financial support, had achieved what hardly anyone thought possible.
And not only did they reach the WTA Tour, they dominated it. Before Serena, women’s tennis was more tactical. After Serena, it’s more power.
No player from the open era of tennis has won more Grand Slams (23), and today Williams remains an inspiration to current and even future generations.
Americans Coco Gauff and Frances Tiafoe admitted they wouldn’t even be on tour without Serena, as “she showed us African American players that not only did we belong here, but we could shine”.
And while we all wanted a fairy tale start to the US Open and dreamed of seeing Serena lift the trophy, I think the start was pretty much perfect.
Because just weeks away from her 41st birthday, Serena’s performance encapsulated an important part of her legacy: her insatiable competitive DNA.
Williams might like her more or less, but no one can deny that she is one of the best competitors in history. A competitor who, despite not being in her best physical shape, went through two rounds and beat the second best player in the standings.
After the match, Mary Joe Fernández asked the youngest Williams if he was surprised by his level. Serena looked at her sideways and said, “I’m Serena,” with that edge of arrogance possessed by those who excel at unlikely levels. And even on the day of his defeat, he sold the backhand dearly and saved six match points.
It was shocking to see Serena cry when she found out the ending had come true. A player who has always been synonymous with strength, it was pure nostalgia.
In the antechamber, Serena’s internal conflict was palpable. After all, tennis is all she knows and being a tireless competitor is her identity.
And for everything he’s done for tennis, on and off the court, Williams got it right.
He had an emotional ceremony after his debut, and at each of his matches there was a sea of people inside and outside the stadium, giving him love and recognition.
Many times we wait until the legends are no longer with us and Serena got to experience people’s love first hand.
Respect was unanimous. The impact has been absolute. The moment was unforgettable.
Thank you Serena, for changing tennis forever.
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